- Koshitsu saishi
- Religious ceremonies (saishi) of the imperial household in which the emperor or an imperial substitute has a priestly function. These include around thirty annual festivals, some of them confidential to the imperial palace, held in the kyuchu sanden or 'three shrines within the palace'. The rites include on January 1st the new year saitansai, on January 3rd the genshisai (celebrating the legendary inception of the imperial line by Ninigi) and on February 11th the kigensetsu, celebrating the beginning of the nation with the accession of emperor Jimmu. The shunki (spring) shindensai and shunki koreisai held on 21 st March are repeated on September 23rd as the shuki (autumn) koreisai and shuki shindensai. The kannamesai (festival of the new rice) and niinamesai (harvest festival) take place on October 17th and November 23rd respectively. On various dates there are daisai and reisai, private ceremonies on the anniversary of the death of the previous emperor and for the spirits of the preceding three emperors respectively. The year ends with an o-harae ceremony on December 31 st. A preparatory chinkon-sai, part of which reenacts the iwato-biraki episode, is held to 'pacify the soul' of the new emperor. It precedes the main daijosai (rite of imperial accession) which occurs as the first niinamesai of an emperor's reign. It occurred in 1925 for the Showa emperor (Hirohito) and in 1990 for emperor Akihito. Imperial marriage ceremonies and funeral rituals may also be classed as koshitsu. The significance of these rites for the state and the people has of course varied according to the political context and the historical significance of the emperor. After the Meiji restoration the koshitsu saishi became preeminent and the reformed ritual calendar of the imperial household was replicated in shrines throughout Japan, a pattern which has continued with some minor modifications since 1945. Since the separation of religion and state in the 1947 constitution the rites of the imperial household have not of course been celebrated as official state ceremonies. For a proportion of Japanese the major imperial rites carry substantial personal and religious significance. From an orthodox shrine Shinto (i.e. Jinja Honcho) point of view they are not just symbolic rites but spiritually necessary for the nation.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.